Tahlequah Daily Press


July 23, 2013

Hannah: Not a banker, but a guy in banking

TAHLEQUAH — Home is where the heart is happiest. And though Jay Hannah may now live more than three hours from Tahlequah, he still thinks of this area as his home.

He thinks of Tahlequah as a community of families, and a common village of connections across generations.

“Your neighbors are more than likely descended from neighbors who were close, caring, and contributing when your great-grandparents were alive and living in Tahlequah,” Hannah said. “Tahlequah is a city where the a greater sense of community exists through the inextricably of past, present, and future. It is a town with a soul.”

His great-great-grandparents moved to Tahlequah in the 1880s from what is now Adair County, where Hannah himself grew up.

“Grandpa was a tribal official, businessman, and helped organize the Chamber of Commerce and was active in the Masonic Lodge. Grandmother was active in Eastern Star and the First United Methodist Church,” Hannah said. “We are told they donated the land for the church.”

Great-uncles were bankers, lawyers and businessmen, while aunts were educators and community volunteers. They were part of the early fabric that transitioned a tribal capital into a city where businesses thrive, homes are built, families are cherished, and where learning flourishes, Hannah said.

Tahlequah was first Hannah’s home from 1973 to 1979 when he was a student at Northeastern State University. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and a master’s from Oklahoma State University. He was in the University of Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program and holds a banking degree from the University of Colorado.

The next time Hannah moved “home” was in 1989 to be president and CEO of  Liberty State Bank, later renamed BancFirst. He’s now executive vice president for financial services at the Support Center of BancFirst in Oklahoma City.

“My best legacy in banking is having hired Mark Gish to take my place as president of BancFirst Tahlequah. He is much better banker than I will ever be,” Hannah said.

Banking wasn’t always his goal; at first, he wanted to be a professor. He taught two years at OSU while working on his master’s and would have pursued his Ph.D.

“But banking chose me,” he said. “After 31 years, I’m still in banking. I am not a ‘banker’; rather, I am a guy who works in banking.”

When he came to Tahlequah as a banker, Hannah immersed himself in the community. He worked with the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce, Masonic Lodge, Rotary Club, Oklahoma Production Center, NSU Foundation, Tahlequah Education Foundation, Main Street, Cherokee Nation, Arts and Humanities Council, and the business community.

“They allowed me to take my place in the line of those who dreamed about Tahlequah’s future,” he said. “I am still a Chamber member and a lifetime member of Cherokee Lodge No. 10.”

His wife, Valerie, is from Tahlequah, and his in-laws, Dr. Valgene Littlefield and Ruth Littlefield, live at Go Ye Village. That brings the couple to Tahlequah often.

“I’ve told people that Valerie and I still live in Tahlequah; we just keep our clothes in Norman,” he said.

Hannah has a countless number of Cherokee cousins who call Tahlequah home.

“I have to mention that more than few of my Cherokee ancestors are sleeping comfortably on the hill at the Tahlequah City Cemetery. I have a spot reserved there, for later,” he said.

Daughter Natalie Haskins attended Cherokee Elementary School, just like her mom, and is today a headmaster of an early learning center in Portland, Ore., where she lives with her husband, Tim, a native of Owasso.

Favorite memories of Tahlequah include working on the Merle Travis Festival and getting to personally “hold and play” Merle Travis’ Gibson Super 400 guitar. Being the master of ceremonies for NSU’s Centennial Celebration in 2009, and for the inaugurations of Cherokee Nation Principal Chiefs Wilma Mankiller and Chad Smith, are other highlights.

“Being involved in these historic tribal events on the ancient grounds of our Nation’s capitol was humbling,” said Hannah.

Hannah chaired the Cherokee Nation’s Constitution Convention of 1999. That organic document is today the law of the land in the Cherokee Nation. He’s a lecturer at several banking schools for the Oklahoma Bankers Association and for the Citizens Academy at the Oklahoma Municipal League.

Other accomplishments are often chalked up to his alter ego, musician Billie Bob Bovine. Hannah plays guitar in a band that has been around since 1983.

“My band opened for Willie Nelson during a fund-raiser for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, although I like to tell people that Willie closed for us,” he said.

Another fond memory is serving as co-host with Greg Combs for the Rotary auction on cable TV.


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
  • rf-skydiver-tomahawk.jpg Former resident tapped for national skydiving award

    A man known locally for putting Tahlequah on the international map by bringing world-class skydiving events to town is being inducted in the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame in October.
    Norman Heaton said he’s very honored to be selected for the prestigious award given to people who have made significant contributions to the sport of skydiving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20th-Amendment.jpg Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment

    Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
    Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
    Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-School-Fashion.jpg Fashion show to feature local teachers

    A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
    Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-actress.jpg TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie

    Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
    Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Stark-Sequoyah.jpg Stark enjoys making a difference

    Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
    “I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • sr-19thAmendment.jpg Women got the vote with 19th Amendment

    During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
    Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • renee-storyteller.jpg Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event

    Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1-ts CN opt 1.jpg Cherokees commemorate Act of Union

    Cherokee Nation dignitaries met on the historic courthouse square Tuesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Act of Union following the end of the Trail of Tears Removal.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-vol-July.jpg Firefighting fills a big role for Kimble

    Community service is both work and volunteering for Cherokee County 911 Coordinator/Director Marty A. Kimble.
    Kimble is also fire chief for Gideon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, president of the Grand View School Board, and northeast regional vice president of OklaNENA (National Emergency Number Association).

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-artist-July-2.jpg Fulk discovered art talent after retirement

    It’s not unusual for retired folks to turn their hand to the arts. Count George Fulk among that number.
    The former optometry professor at Northeastern State University and bird-watching enthusiast has found he also has a talent for watercolor painting.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament